The Corner

Culture

Poetry

THE ‘F’ WORD

My mother would withhold from me most news,

Because my constant questions — like a plague

Of locusts — flew at her, till she would lose

Her patience, as I lost mine with the vague.

 

Forgotten, even when I over-think,

Are times I forced some awkward situation –

But one day, drying dishes at the sink,

I voiced the rudest term for copulation.

 

She labored to my left, aloof and cool,

And deftly swept the plates with suds, to pour

With style, while I stood upon a stool,

About the fragile age of five or four.

 

Where I first heard the word did not perplex.

We lived among bold soldiers on a base

Where daily she was “praised” for her fair sex.

She dropped a dish — a rare retreat from grace.

 

The two of us paused stiffly at our task,

The kitchen atmosphere around us dim,

As doubtless she thought, “Did you have to ask?”

And doubtless also cursed, resenting him.

 

The climax to the scene, I can’t recall;

But just that sudden fracture of the plate.

But only shame, with shock, I could appall –

By one small sound — the powerful and great.

 

— This poem appears in the December 18 print issue of NR.

Jennifer Reeser is the author of six books. Her most recent poetry collection is Indigenous (Able Muse Press, 2018).

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